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Labour Needs a Programme of Political Education

 Wirksworth Farmers Market stall


Labour needs a programme of political education - so says teacher and activist James McCash in a recent blog on OpenDemocracyUK . 

He points out that one in 75 people in the UK is now a member of the Labour Party - so where are the Labour voices in pub conversations, mother and toddler groups, book groups? 

Derbyshire Dales has developed a vibrantly active presence on social media, but we’re speaking to the converted. Great as social media is, I don’t find it all that easy for exploring policy, nor do I always remember that great post I shared on Facebook when I’m face to face with a friend or neighbour whose political views differ from my own.

 We live in a Conservative constituency - someone you know must vote for them. How do we turn that vote around? How do we take the fight to the Tories on our own ground? How do we start having conversations outside of our own circle? How do we develop more informed and articulate discussions within our own circle?

 Starting early this year, Wirksworth & Masson Branch decided to set up a stall at Wirksworth Farmers Market. It’s only for 2 hours once a month, but it’s an opportunity to campaign, hand out literature, promote CLP events, demonstrate an active Labour Party presence and have conversations. Indeed, conversations are the most enjoyable part of being on the stall. But in my experience, we are speaking to the converted. People have thanked us for being there, for having a presence in the town, but it’s rare to have a conversation on the stall with someone who isn’t a supporter.

We need “an active political and articulate membership who can persuade those around them”, says McCash, “we will only win by articulating a positive and transformative vision for a fairer society. . .

 “Labour needs a programme of political education to empower members to better persuade those around them and to participate more confidently in internal debates.”

 The CLP is starting with a series of invited speakers. On 16 September Jon Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, will be speaking at a social in Bakewell on ‘Tackling the Tory Myths’. More details and RSVP on the Events page.

 Other speakers could be invited as part of a talks programme for the winter months, alternating with a locally-led discussion group. 

 What about a book group, or MOOC courses such as these on Futurelearn, Edx and Yale University, mentioned in the comments section of McCash’s blog,  freely available to everyone? Perhaps a group could agree to follow a course and back it up with a weekly pub discussion: 





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commented 2016-09-04 08:25:25 +0100
I’ve just enrolled on a free future learn course Challenging Wealth and Inequality, https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/inequalities-in-personal-finance starts beginning of October for 4 weeks. Could be a good starting point if others also wanted to join
commented 2016-08-21 12:55:18 +0100
This is an excellent idea, not least of all because we want to have an informed membership, capable of debating issues with those who disagree with us.We could perhaps start by having discussions about the Party’s programme and policies, how these relate to our local situation and the various means we have at our disposal to speak to the wider public. I also think it would be desirable to examine the role of the media. Having attended the Victoria Derbyshire Labour Leader debate,I can vouch for the fact that, despite the programme appearing to be open, it is actually tightly controlled.For example, prior to the broadcast, the programme controllers stated that it was really “our” programme and “our” opinions and questions which were at the centre of the debate,but in the same breath suggested that certain issues, such as Brexit and anti-Semitism,would be appropriate items for discussion. From the outset, therefore, the programme’s parameters and framework had already been set, it was just a matter of selecting the appropriate audience questions; anyone wanting to ask a question was approached by a floor assistant, who then decided whether the question should be put forward.I noted that a few people were told their question was “off-topic”, or that they would be allowed to speak “later”, by which time the questioner was likely to be “off-topic”, hence the question was never put. This is called having a balanced programme!
commented 2016-08-10 16:53:46 +0100
Sounds good. I’m all for it, especially the pub afterwards!
I was on the Wirksworth stall recently and quite a few new members were asking where the action is, so to speak.
How to include/motivate/mobilise, and above all, retain their support?
One thing could be a local agenda print-out made available on the stall, listing all LP events in the immediate area, plus a pro-active approach to events – think up some proposals for meetings and activities? At the simplest level, old fashioned fund-raising events can be good.

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